After four years without a city planner, city officials are taking steps to either hire one or sign a contract with a consulting firm to handle that job’s responsibilities.
Mayor Charles Sammarone said Wednesday at a city council finance committee meeting there will be money in the budget for planning services.
He wants to discuss with council members whether to hire someone who would be on staff or select a firm.
“We’ll come up with the best way to go,” Sammarone said. “We may get more bang for our buck with a consultant.”
The search for an individual or a firm likely wouldn’t begin until after the budget is approved in late March.
There was money in the 2012 budget to hire a city planner for the last six months of that year.
But no one was selected last year because the expectation was the city would get a person to handle the job at little or no cost through its involvement in the federal Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative, Sammarone said.
The city offered the job to some candidates who declined to take it while others who applied weren’t good fits, he said.
SC2 is designed to give struggling cities needed resources, primarily personnel assistance, to spur economic growth and operational efficiency.
The city has operated without a planner since March 2009 when Anthony Kobak left after nine years on the job.
The planner largely is responsible for developing strategic planning to improve neighborhoods with a focus on targeted demolition.
At its Wednesday meeting, council voted to allow the board of control to pay $47,872 to North American Waste Solutions, a Middlefield company, for demolishing a long-vacant three-story commercial building, filled with asbestos, at 1501 Elm St.
The second floor of the North Side building collapsed, causing extensive damage, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department.
Most of the cost was because it was an emer- gency and the expense of properly removing the asbestos, Shasho said.